Friday, May 28, 2010

The Power of Shoes

The average woman, in her lifetime, spends about $40,500 on shoes. And I would guess that several of us Winos will have spent well over that by the time we are six feet under.

Why is footwear so compelling to us and why do we wear the shoes we do? (And why do I crack up every single time I watch the "Shoes!" video on YouTube?)

Because shoes are much more than things to walk in. Shoes are a form of expression. They bring out certain characteristics in us. They make us feel—and maybe even act—a certain way.

Let me explain. Pictured above are the pairs of shoes that I wear most often.
  • My chucks bring out my inner hipster (and my dog obviously loves them, too!). When I wear them, I feel the urge to peruse used record stores looking for unreleased Velvet Underground singles.
  • My ballet flats make me feel feminine but practical. They are usually the shoes I wear to work.
  • My flip flops are synonymous with laid back. Thinking about them conjures up images of basking in the sun and reading at Dolores Park.
  • My heels make me feel sexy. It's impossible for me to wear them without wearing lipstick and gettin' low, low, low, low.
  • And my boots are warm and comfy. I imagine pairing them with a cute winter coat and going Christmas shopping.
A few nights ago, I spent $130 on a new pair of shoes to add to the repertoire. Observe:

I bought this pair of top-of-the-line running shoes to wear as I start training for my forthcoming Half Marathon. I just started training last week, and it's been tougher than I expected. We have team workouts twice a week—but on the other days, it's up to me to motivate myself to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to run, run, run.

The shoes have helped. The night I got them, they sat on my nightstand while I slept. When my alarm went off at 5:30am and I saw those shoes staring back at me, I got up, slid my feet into them, and headed out to run 3 miles. When I got home from my run, still wearing the shoes, I was hungry. I had passed a McDonald's on the way home and couldn't help but salivate at the the smell of the warm hashbrowns that permeated the air.

Nope—not in these shoes! I had decided. So instead I made myself a 100-calorie english muffin and egg white sandwich with a glass of orange juice.

In the days following, I have continued to sleep with the shoes on my nightstand, and I have continued to notice that they provide just the push I need to stay on track and work towards my goal.

The average woman spends over $40,500 on shoes in her lifetime, so clearly, shoes have some sort of power over us. But if a pair of shoes can get us to change our actions for the better... well, maybe the power of shoes is even greater than we realized.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

EXACTLY 100 Days Left!

I have a twinge of OCD directed at the passage of time. It concentrates on rounded numbers, but also halves and quarters. It is a strange affliction that I can mostly control but it is often always in the back of my mind.

For example, I went through an extreme phase about 5 years ago when I would only leave the house to go exercise on quarter-hours. If it was 12:15pm -- good to go. But 3:37pm? Gotta wait until the clock says 3:45pm. I was also very enthusiastic when I went back to my college town recently for the first time in 10 years. I'm not sure what made me more excited… see it all again after so long, or the fact that it happened to fall exactly 10 years later. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with how to handle it 8 or 11 years later. Exactly a decade was good.

Similarly, the countdown to my wedding is always with me, for many reasons. Mostly for the list of things that need to get done by certain points time. But also….how long until?! At exactly 6 months to the day we had been engaged and would be married, I said to my fiancĂ©, "Honey, I made reservations for our 6-months-since-engaged; 6-months-until-the-wedding anniversary!" His response…"Huh?" Something came up, and we ended up not making it out on that exact night, so forget it! I'm not celebrating unless it is on this exact middle day in time!

It isn't like I'm counting down every single day to the wedding, luckily. Because that would really bug. But technology is doing it for me. Every time I log on to our adorable wedding website, or one of our registries, or I get a spam email from, they love to remind me how many freakin days are left! It's like they are trying to freak me out! Well, the "days until" countdown didn't effect me until this one: 100 Days Left!

WHAT?! Only 100 days? But there is so much to do! Pretty soon, like tomorrow, we will be in the double digits! I am already waking up at 3am in the middle of many nights worrying about getting the picture list to the photographer, among many other annoying details. Now that it is EXACTLY 100 days, I am in panic mode!

But the main 100 days OCD number crunch that has come to mind is my Weight Watchers progress. I have a very nice lead into the final stretch, but still a lot of mileage to go. Compared to the sprint at the beginning, my weekly weight loss has slowed to less than a pound per week. So here we go….if I lose 1 more pound every 10 days, that divides exactly evenly into 100, so that should be my goal. 10 more pounds. But what if I divide it by weeks instead of days, or hours and minutes? 10 in 100 must be the most I can do, right?

There is no exact calculation to pulling off the rest of the details in 100 more days, or pulling off 10 more pounds in exactly 100 days. What is going to make this all happen is focus. Focus on ordering the monogrammed cocktail napkins…..focus on not going over your points this week and making all your workouts. And don't wait for exactly 2:45pm to do it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Savvy Shopper : Pickles!

Perhaps pickles are not the most common item on your shopping list, but I was surprised to find out that some pickle varieties equal unnecessary points! When looking at the label, it seems harmless enough - low calories + no fat = a Weight Watchers win!

In general, pickles are a safe bet as an add-on to a sandwich or burger, but it depends on the kind and, of course, the quantity. For example, adding just 1 Bread & Butter Stacker to your sandwich puts on 1 extra point which might be worth it for the taste. But what about adding 3? That's 2 extra points right off the bat - leaving less room in your daily allowance for, you guessed it, wine!

Peter Piper's Notes on Pickles:
1. The serving size for all "spear" varieties is 3/4 of a spear. Who eats 3/4 of a pickle spear?!
2. All "dill" varieties are your friend - bread & butter, your foe.
3. Vlassic owns the pickle shelf space in the local Safeway stores - perhaps it's time for a little friendly competition?

Serving Sizes:
Stackers = 1
Chips = 2
Snack-ems = 2
Spears = 3/4 spear

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The infamous quote by Kate Moss, now a wearable T! Is this a true statement....or not?....DISCUSS!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Week after week, us Winos have been very good at reporting a variety of progress -- mostly encouraging news from the battle lines, but challenges as well. In order to stay true to, well, truth, I am compelled to share a recent development: OUR WORST WEIGHT-IN YET.

This past Wednesday, we all predicted little movement on the scale -- like we knew we'd been bad. Four of us Winos consistently weigh in together at Wednesday evening Weight Watchers meetings and often bet what the cumulative total of our loss will be. An early predictor of our impending defeat was detailed during our back-and-forth email guesses that afternoon of what our total loss would be: 3.5 lbs; 2.8 lbs; 2.1 lbs…..if only!

Instead of posting even a little bit of a "loss" towards our Backstreet Boy goal, our group actually gained 2.8 collective pounds last week. Epic Wino #FAIL.

After the weigh-in disaster, I asked the Winos what actions were haunting them as they looked back on some of their choices that might have made an impact on their week's number. "An entire chocolate chip cookie 6 inches in diameter"; "A huge deli sandwich the day after a decadent dinner"; "I didn't resist the cheesecake. (And, in fact, may have had 2 pieces.)"

For me, a couple stand-outs came to mind. My biggest #FAIL this past week was not eating enough before I went to my bi-weekly weight training class. By the end of it, I was so famished I was seeing stars. So that I wouldn't pass out during my bus ride home, I bee-lined it for a nearby taqueria. It crossed my mind to text my fellow Winos to tell them what I was about to do (order a burrito with the works), so that they could talk me out of it and offer better choices and encouragement. Instead, I ignored my inclination to get them involved and I went for it. I logged the points after nearly finishing it (and a side of chips), and felt it weighing me down the next day.

A final reality check occurred Thursday morning. Upon awaking to a fresh week's worth of points, I found the bag of pita chips I'd had a little party with right before bedtime. My punishment: logging the points in the next day so I would have to deal with the consequences of 2 unneeded servings of pita chips during this week. Guess what those pita chips amounted to: half a bottle of wine. #FAIL!

Five of us Winos will be together celebrating this Saturday night. We’ve already mapped out some very nice Weight Watchers choices and scheduled in dance party time to burn some calories. I am also bringing a measuring cup so we can accurately count our wine intake. Not trying to be a killjoy….just trying to get us back into the negative numbers so we don't encounter another Epic Wino #FAIL. The real #FAIL : I'm already half-a-bottle's worth of wine behind for the night.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saying Aloha to Weight Loss

Aloha is a Hawaiian word that translates in English to both hello and goodbye.

When I started Weight Watchers about three months ago, I happily said aloha—hello—to the program. Optimistic and excited, I achieved quick success, losing 12 pounds in just under a month. Based on my calculations, at that pace, I would be able to hit my goal weight by mid-Summer. And to reward myself, I would go on a trip to Hawaii—somewhere I have never been, but always fantasized about, thanks to mainstream media. (I'm obviously referring to Saved by the Bell Hawaiian Style.)

It has now been three months, and I have lost... 12 pounds. When I realized this, I was completely discouraged. I was ready to quit. I was ready to say aloha—goodbye—to Weight Watchers all together.

But if I quit, I'd have to give up on my Hawaiian dream. Not ready to do that just yet, I figured out another (unlikely, if you know me) way to get there. I signed up to run the Kauai Half Marathon, which will take place September 5, with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training.

This will ensure three things:
1) I will continue to work towards my goal weight.
2) I will get to Hawaii at last.
3) And the best part: I will change the life of someone with blood cancer by raising $4,000 between now and the race.

In English, aloha means hello and goodbye. But aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy—all things I am going to need as I embark on this challenge... things the people battling blood cancers need daily. If you can, please help me to accomplish the daunting task that lies before me by visiting my personal fundraising page and donating whatever works for your budget.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Cream Puff Effect

The week started with a 4 course meal at Gary Danko, including a beautiful duck entree, an amazing cheese course and a rich chocolate souffle.  This unbelievable meal and the accompanying hangover was answered by an enormous turkey/avocado sandwich from the deli on the corner.  Then came the Yank Sing appetizers prior to an agency happy hour, followed by pizza during a lunch meeting the next day.  The weekend brought a surf and turf dinner of grilled steak and prawns swimming in butter solidified with several bottles of amazing wine in Sonoma.  I was awoken the next morning with the sweet, buttery aroma of fresh, homemade cinnamon buns.  The afternoon BBQ in Berkeley resulted in a scrumptious grilled hot dog only to be washed down by a dixie cup full of beer.

And as if all this were insufficient, my week was punctuated with a Beard & Pappa cream puff during a morning meeting.  Is it even possible to resist this creamy, flaky goodness?  I think not.

What's a poor Weight Watcher like me to do with all of this amazing food at my fingertips???!  It's like the indulgent start to my week with a divine dinner at Gary Danko snowballed (or in this case, cream-puffed) into caloric chaos.  Because I knew I had already used my flex points on Day 1, was there really any reason to try to make up for it the rest of the week?

In a meeting a while back, I heard someone explain that they only consider their food intake in 15 minute increments.  In other words, if they just stuffed half a cheese plate down their throat before dinner, they didn't write off the whole meal, but considered the next 15 minutes to be a clean slate in which to do better.  Usually if I have a moment of indulgence, I try to stick to this principle and let go of the mistake quickly in order to move on to the next chance to make a better choice.  I try not to fall into the "oh-fuck-it" spiral and get lost in endless abandon.

Not really sure what happened this week, but now that I'm stacked with a fresh plate of points, it's time to start over.  In the meantime, I'm pretty excited to hop on the scale and scope the extent of the damage in t-minus 5 hours.  NOT. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back in the saddle again...UPDATE

Hey winos! About 3 weeks ago, I blogged that I was ready to get back in the saddle and lose 10 - 15 pounds before attending a wedding in mid-July. In order to keep myself motivated and accountable, I thought I'd update you all on my progress.

I mentioned that since January, I had only lost 5.2 lbs. Well I'm happy to report 4.4 more lbs gone for a total loss of 9.6 lbs. I have also decided on an ultimate weight loss goal of 23 lbs, which means I still have 13.4 lbs to go.

I know that all of my cute summer clothes will fit at that weight, and I can't tell you how excited I will be to go shopping in my own closet! I even have 3 items that still have tags on them...2 dresses and a skirt that I bought about two sizes too small, knowing I would get into them as soon as I got back to my "fighting weight". Well, they have been taking up space in my closet for about 2 years now...

Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Eye of the Storm

“You are going to get FAT!” This is what our painter said to me the day we moved in to our new house. Our kitchen is down to the studs & we have a little makeshift microwave and coffee maker station in our new bathroom. Translation: no way to cook! It is a lot like being on permanent vacation- you have to go out to eat, bring in, or make salt-laden things in the microwave. What is a Weight Watchers Wino to do?

Let me take you back to a weight watchers success story- sadly, not mine. When I was living in New Orleans years ago, my neighbor Jenny and I joined weight watchers- the day before Hurricane Katrina hit. Of course, we had no idea what was coming our way. We both remember that our biggest worry the night before we evacuated was how many points we had consumed at the Saints football game. The following day, our lives were changed forever.

On the road, with no kitchen or routine, I fell in to the category of “The Katrina Fifteen.” When we were finally allowed to return home three months later, Jenny had lost 25 pounds. She looked amazing! How had this happened? She said she stuck to the points in her hotel room and tracked. When she went out to eat, she made weight watcher-friendly choices. Hmmm…

Faced with a similar situation in our new home, I stocked our fridge with frozen meals and salad fixins. Our grill is in working order, so Ian has been making chicken and fish for dinner. I can report that I have been spending more points on wine, thanks to the stress that comes with moving. However, I am not gaining The Move Fifteen. Where I could use this life transition as an excuse to over-indulge, I find myself reading labels and thinking about what I eat before I do it. Certainly the kitchenless storm is not over, but unlike storms of the hurricane variety, for this one I was prepared.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

There's no 'No' in NOLA

As a follow up to my recent post on counting, or not counting, Points, I wanted to check back in and share what a blast the New Orleans trip was, both from a musical and, of course, culinary perspective. The Jazz Fest itself was a fantastic experience. All types of music (from Gospel choirs to Pearl Jam), peaceful and happy crowds, and the food…..

I have never experienced such divine food at faire/festival. I think my single favorite sampling was a $6 bowl of shrimp n grits. Served in a Styrofoam bowl and looking like bland English porridge, I was shocked when I took a bite to taste of the freshness of the shrimp and the smoothness of the grits and sauce. But there was also the oyster po' boy in close second, a stuffed meat bread, fried soft shell crab po' boy, creamed crawfish pasta, pulled pork po' boy, all washed down with either a single-serve screw cap bottle of white wine or a miller high life. Ahhhhhhh….. I heard restaurants compete for the booth space, which I'm sure are cash cows, and that is how the food ends up so good.

But the indulgences didn't stop there. I took my first trip to CafĂ© du Mond for their world famous beignets. I don't really care for sweets, so this was more of a "gotta do it" stop for me…until I tried one. Holy powdered sugar on a fried dougnut-ish-type-thing! We also went out to upscale dinners each night, to counter-balance the fest-scene. From fried oyster flat bread, to lamb procruito, to Kobe beef steak and duck fat roasted potatoes, my tongue and tummy were doing the happy dance! Don't even get me started on how much wine I drank. Hello old friends! And not a single point counted.

As if that wasn't enough, each night after dinner, we hit a late-late local music scene show. A couple started at midnight and one started after 2pm. So you know what that means….more drinking! Gotta stay awake, right? Between the festival, meals and practically non-stop cocktailing, the NOLA world was my fried oyster -- literally. Yes, yes, yes, I'll have it all! After 10 weeks of being semi-smart about everything, it felt really good to take a complete break and enjoy the treats of a vacation.

The third and final night I was out until 4 a.m. and up again at 6:15 a.m. to pack and run to my flight home. Much like a trip to Vegas, a few nights is about all I can take these days. My body was telling me, "Erika, seriously, enough." And I listened.

Despite 2 hours of sleep and a hangover that gave me the shakes by the time I landed at DIA for a connecting flight back to SFO, I was back on the Weight Watchers wagon. Instead of ordering some McDonald's French fries and a Coke as a hangover cure and last ditch pig-out before I landed back in the reality of home, I ordered two salads and an apple to get me though the last leg of the trip. I jumped back on the WW iPhone app to log my points all day Sunday, because I was ready. After a few days plus on the lam, it was actually a relief to have a system to go back to immediately.

Because of my healthy choices I made on Sunday, and my first good night's sleep in days, I was able to start a new routine at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. I got my ass out of bed at 6:15 to take a one hour power walk and will do this every weekday for the next two months (in addition to my regular after-work workouts). I am quite invigorated to do this and feel these walks are a treat, rather than an evil alarm clock chore. But I think that is because I got to let loose for a few great days and can now move on to this new "Phase Two" of my WW journey: The Next Ten Pounds.

Do you have a Weight Watchers hump you are trying to get over but can't? Are you stalled at the intersection of "I want it but don't really want to"? Maybe it is time to take a planned break from the points and constraints of the program. Maybe for a week, maybe for just a few days. You might find that you will appreciate being away from it for a bit, but once you've had your "fill" you can bounce back on the wagon and be content with it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lemon FAT Cake

Sunday afternoon, in a rush and needing a quick snack on my way to class, I stopped at Starbucks.  Now I've frequented Starbucks enough to know that their pastry counter is not Weight Watchers friendly, but given my famished condition and hasty pace, I wasn't employing my keenest decision-making skills.  Blueberry scones, old fashioned glazed donuts, banana bread.  Decisions, decisions.

"What can I get for you?" the woman with the green apron asked.

"Grande black iced tea, and, ah, um, uh, Iced Lemon Pound Cake please."

No turning back.  I grabbed my tea and the little brown pastry bag and jetted off to class.

A few hours later when I got home, I figured I better track my points before I conveniently forgot the details of my daily menu.  When I got to my midday snack, I jotted down 6 points for the pound cake.  It seemed like a fair assessment for a small piece of lemony goodness.  Maybe 7?  Ugh.  Should I go 8?  There was icing on top after all.  So, I decided I better just look it up.  Who knows?  Maybe I'd get lucky and there would be a ton of fiber or something and I was actually overestimating.

One slice of Iced Lemon Pound Cake had... wait for it... 490 calories and 23 GRAMS OF FAT!  Holy S#$%(&#^T!!!!!!!!!!!!  My 6 point estimation turned out to be 12 points of utter indulgence.  And it wasn't even that good!  What was I thinking?  How could a tiny little piece of pound cake equate to more points than an In-N-Out Hamburger, a Double Decker Taco from Taco Bell, or an ENTIRE bottle of Pinot Noir???!  Some things in this world are just utterly unfair.  And Lemon FAT Cake is one of them.

Lesson learned on that hasty misstep: look it up before you hook it up.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Before & Progress Photo > 20.7 lbs

We've not posted before & "progress" photos on the blog yet, but I think it's important to see. Not only because it's proof we're looking & feeling better, but also to keep us accountable.

I recently decided what my "before" photo would be - it was taken just 3 months ago while visiting family/friends in Florida. It was appalling to me, really, to see how much I had let go of maintaining at least a slightly healthy appearance. This past weekend, I was wearing the same sweater and decided it was advantageous to take a progress pic to see just how far I have come.

I still have a ways to go ... in small goals, it's 10 pounds 4 more times. But, at least I can see there's been progress made and I am motivated to continue in this direction as to avoid being uncomfortable and self conscious about my weight.

Weeks on the program: 12
Weight lost to date: 20.7 lbs

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wine vs Food

It's 4:40 p.m. I'm hungry. But not starving. I am going to be taking a long walk home from work today. I can either:

a) eat this 4 point Berries GoMega bar


b) save the points for an 8oz glass of wine at home

What should this Wino do?!

6.8 Pounds....a Haiku

Counting counting points
That's how we lose all the weight
Always room for wine!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mind Over Mimosa

Lime is a hip restaurant and lounge in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood whose Sunday brunch features $6 bottomless mimosas and a DJ spinning dance music as early as 10am. It is not uncommon at these brunches—during which the restaurant is packed to the gills—for people to get up mid-omelette to start dancing (or lap dancing, as the case may be) in the restaurant's aisles.

For obvious reasons, Lime is one of my favorite places in this city. So I was happy to hear that they recently launched a happy hour—which is where I happened to find myself yesterday evening after work.

Before I go any further, please observe the Lime happy hour menu, with which I was confronted upon sitting down at the Jetsons-esque bar:

If you are on Weight Watchers, your first reaction to this menu should be utter horror. Because, from a Weight Watchers standpoint, this menu is appalling. But I knew things were not on track when my first thought after reading the happy hour menu was: "Wow, what a great happy hour!" I then proceeded to order: A margarita. A grilled cheese. A fish taco. A slider. A shared order of french fries. And a stella.

Weight Watchers is, in many ways, a mindset. A mindset that I had when I first started the program, but that has been replaced over the last couple of weeks with a different mindset—one that evokes statements like "Wow, what a great happy hour!" or "Awesome, my tab was only $12!"

I decided last night—my third week in a row without losing weight—that it's time to get the old mindset back. And what made me come to this conclusion?

I realized I'd look much better dancing at Lime if I were skinnier.